This chapter provides information for staff about how to keep safe, both professionally and personally, when using social media.


Knowsley Council Social Media Protocol


Standards of conduct, performance and ethics, Health and Care Professions Council

1. Introduction

This guidance provides information about how to minimise risk to yourself, and others, whilst using social media sites.

As a social care professional the onus is upon you to protect yourself from allegations of wrongdoing online and whilst using digital technology, in order to avoid potentially inappropriate or damaging situations. As your role involves direct work with individuals and families in challenging and stressful situations, there is a risk that people with whom your service works may, at times, post information about staff or the service that is erroneous, libellous and / or upsetting.

It is vital therefore that, in order to protect the reputation of the organisation and staff, the response is always professional, proportionate and measured.

In such situations, managers may need to respond to and take action against those posting such material; guidance is provided below to help protect all staff and volunteers working with the public.

2. Steps to Minimise Risk

2.1 Privacy settings and passwords

Check your privacy settings across all social networks. This can be done by going to ‘Settings’ and reviewing the current privacy settings. Updating privacy settings is vital to being able to protect yourself online and is just as important as keeping a credit card safe, for example.

The privacy settings of some social media sites can be set up to send posts just to particular groups, such as close friends, rather than all ‘friends’. Such options are worth considering when thinking about sharing information that you would not necessarily want all people to know.

Remember some information cannot be hidden however tight privacy settings. Names and profile images will always be visible on Facebook for example, so choose images or photos carefully.

By logging out of your social networks and then searching for yourself you can see how your profile appears to the public.

Regularly update your passwords. Do not use the same one across all social media accounts. This will help avoid someone hacking into your account and posting inappropriate status updates or images.

2.2 Connect wisely

Many people have far more friends on social media than they know personally. But it is wise only to connect with people that you know and trust. Even people you know, however, may post comments or share material that you do not like or agree with.

In such cases think about whether to ‘unfriend’ that person rather than be associated with someone whose views you do not share or you maybe seen by others as not trying to counteract.

If it is someone you know and like, discuss their posts with them if you find it uncomfortable.

Not all social media sites operate for the same purpose. Consider the purpose of the site, and act accordingly. For example, LinkedIn is for professional connections. It is not wise, therefore, to accept requests to connect if the message contains suspicious text or the person seems to have no connections, location, education or vocation similar to you.

2.3 Post, share and access wisely

2.3.1 Personal information

Think carefully before you post photos and text.

If you would not say it in public or to your manager, or want them to see certain images, you should not put it on social media however tight your privacy settings. Online friends can share or repost / re-tweet your updates, so you can lose control of what you say and display.

Remember, some things are best only shared in person or by telephone or even not at all, not via social media including email.

It is illegal to access or download material that promotes or depicts criminal behaviour. Do not access any illegal or inappropriate websites on your personal computer or mobile phone, not even for personal or professional research purposes. This includes illegal or inappropriate images of children, some pornography or extremist websites.

Photos and texts sent to mobile phones and tablets can also be shared by others, so be careful what you send to others or what images you allow people to take of you. Sometimes images are accompanied by personal information, including name, address and links to their social media profiles. Distributing certain private images or films may be an offence under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. It applies both on and offline, and to images which are shared electronically or more traditionally so includes uploading of images on the internet, sharing by text and email, or showing someone a physical or electronic image.

Be careful using social media whilst under the influence of alcohol or if you are feeling upset or distressed in any way. Whilst your own posts can be edited the next day, there is often not much that can be done about other people’s replies.

Take care when in contact with others via web cam internet sites (for example chat rooms, message boards, social networking sites and newsgroups). Avoid inappropriate communication with individuals you think may be under 18, or those with who you may be in a position of trust. Avoid inappropriate communication with those who you do not know. Adults can pose as children using interactive technology; likewise some children can pose as adults.

2.3.2 Professional Information

See also Standards of conduct, performance and ethics, Health and Care Professions Council, 2016

Posting information in relation to service users with whom you work, or their family or friends, is not permissible. This is a potential breach of the Data Protection Act 2018 (see Information Sharing and Confidentiality), and even where it is not strictly illegal it is professionally unethical and may result in disciplinary action being taken. For example, families have seen and subsequently made formal complaints about social workers who – whilst not disclosing any personal information – have posted comments following court cases which have found in the local authority’s favour.

Posting information about work colleagues of any grade, whilst not illegal, is inadvisable. It can damage working relationships and cause difficulties in the office environment. Again, it may lead to disciplinary action being taken.

If in the course of your work you see an adult or child who you think may have physical injuries or signs of abuse or neglect, seek advice from your manager or designated safeguarding manager before taking photographs for evidential purposes on a mobile phone or tablet, and record the guidance they give you. This is to avoid unnecessary allegations being levelled at you where your actions could be misinterpreted. If the advice is not to take photographs, mark the site of the injuries on a body map, make a written record and refer your concerns in the usual way.

Consider the implications of out of office hours discussions with colleagues via social media about contentious issues such as politics, for example. Working relationships can sometimes be adversely affected by such disagreements.

2.4 Review content

If you have used social media accounts over a number of years, it may be useful to review earlier entries to see if there is any content you posted when you were younger that you would not now post. If so, it would be best to delete it.

Monitor what others post about you, as this also contributes to your social media profile even if you did not post it yourself. If you are not happy with being tagged in a particular photo or status update, contact the person or organisation concerned via messaging or email (rather than via a public discussion) and politely ask them to remove it, explaining why.

Getting content taken down by the social media company can be difficult and may have to involve the police, which should only be reserved for extreme cases.

2.5 Act wisely

Whilst you should always share personal information with caution, in particular do not give email addresses or mobile telephone numbers to anyone who is, or has been, a service user or members of their family. If you wish to keep in contact with any such person, only use work emails or telephone numbers to communicate with them. Discuss your intention with your line manager in advance, and seek their advice.

Ensure you adhere to your organisation’s Acceptable Use Policy / IT and email procedures. If you breach any part of them, report it voluntarily immediately to your manager or designated other, as per the procedures.

If there is any incident related to this guidance, which causes you concern, report it immediately to your line manager. Document it as soon as possible, according to your workplace procedures.

4. In Summary

Use common sense and professional judgement at all times to avoid circumstances which are, or as importantly could be viewed by others, to be inappropriate.

Remember, computers, tablets and mobile phone technology may be the virtual world, but they very much impact on real life. Treat people the same through electronic communications as you would on a personal basis.


– End –

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1. Introduction

The role of social worker brings with it a variety of challenges and complex situations practical, social, emotional. Social workers work closely with adults and families who are in need of support, usually at a times of stress or crisis. All social work interventions begin with an assessment of the person and their strengths and needs.

In order to understand the particular situation of the person and their family / carers fully and to appreciate the challenges that they are facing and the outcomes that they want, social workers need to be able to build relationships with adults and families. This includes being able to form a professional assessment of how all elements of the person’s life impact upon them and to keep this under regular review so that risks can be identified and addressed.

When social workers become involved with and adult this is often a difficult time for the person involved. Help from the local authority may be rejected, people may be angry, suspicious, depressed, upset, defensive and anxious. Even when adults are welcoming of help, there remains the need to maintain the appropriate professional boundary.

In this complex and demanding role, supervision is the main mechanism to ensure that the appropriate help is offered to enable adults to be safe and well by supporting, managing and developing staff who delivery a social work service.

Supervision has two main functions, learning and support and management, as outlined below.

1.1 Learning and support

Through learning and support, social workers are enabled to:

  • reflect and share their actions, feelings and concerns about their work in a safe environment with an experienced practitioner who can challenge, guide and encourage;
  • actively engage with supervision that aims to help them uncover assumptions and analyse judgements, clarify the focus of their work and identify changes that they need to make to their approach;
  • recognise when there are multiple and conflicting ideas, interpretations and perspectives to reach a professional judgement taking account of the complexity of people’s lives;
  • develop skills and identify strengths and areas for further learning so that social workers are aware of their own practice skills and needs for training and development;
  • feel supported so that they are able to continue to work well in a stressful and demanding environment with adults who are often at risk of, or experiencing, abuse or neglect;
  • adopt a strengths based based approach to assessment and care planning, which is informed by the principles of the Care Act 2014, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Mental Health Act 2007;
  • review decisions to ensure that they are based on observation and analysis, exploring differences between opinion and fact, addressing any bias in situations of uncertainty in order to ensure that clear conclusions are reached and defensible judgements made.

1.2 Management

1.2.1 Quality and accountability

The organisation should ensure:

  • there is a culture of focused and critical thinking including the adult, carers and professionals’ views, chronology of critical events, social, economic, emotional / mental health issues;
  • social work interventions are planned and monitored, risks are identified and escalated as needed;
  • workloads are monitored to ensure safe practice;
  • the quality of work is reviewed and records kept to ensure clarity of purpose is clear and that decisions made are defensible and evidence based and underpinned by relevant legislation;
  • a person centred, holistic approach is taken to practice ensuring that actions are proportionate to risks and the procedures of the organisation.

1.2.2 Strength based approach

This ensures that:

  • practice reflects the requirements of the Care Act to ‘consider the person’s own strengths and capabilities, and what support might be available from their wider support network or within the community to help’ in considering ‘what else other than the provision of care and support might assist the person in meeting the outcomes they want to achieve’;
  • an approach that looks at a person’s life holistically, considering their needs in the context of their skills, ambitions, and priorities;
  • adults’ strengths are identified, including– personal, community and social networks – and maximise these strengths to help people achieve the outcomes they want;
  • support available from family and friends is considered in the light of their appropriateness, willingness and ability to provide this support and takes into account the impact on them;
  • the implementation of a strengths-based approach includes cultural and organisational commitment as well as frontline practice implementation;
  • practitioners have time to research and become familiar with community resources and that time is allowed for assessments to be undertaken appropriately and proportionately.

See also Assessment chapter, Section 16, Strengths and Capabilities and Strength Based Approaches (SCIE).

1.2.3 Supervision in multi-disciplinary teams

Models for multi-disciplinary working vary from co-located, fully integrated teams to virtual teams working in an integrated manner.

Whatever the model, there will be in place arrangements for line management and supervision. In multi-disciplinary teams, workers may not be managed by someone of their own profession. The manager will be responsible for the day to day running of the service, allocation and review of workloads, risk management and the performance of the service.

In these circumstances it is crucial to the safe running of the service that staff have supervision from someone from their own discipline to support and develop their clinical practice, professional development and service offered to adults.

2. Standards for Employers of Social Workers

The Local Government Association has produced standards for employers of social workers in England: Standards for Employers of Social Workers in England (Local Government Association)

The remainder of this chapter outlines those standards.

2.1 Purpose

The purpose of the Standards is to sustain high quality outcomes for adults, their families, carers, and communities in three main areas:

  • enabling employers to provide a well led, professional environment;
  • enabling social work professionals to maintain their professionalism;
  • enabling them to practice more effectively.

6.2 The Standards

There are eight standards, as outlined below.

  • Standard 1: clear social work accountability framework – employers should have in place a clear social work accountability framework informed by knowledge of good social work practice and the experience and expertise of adults, carers and practitioners.
  • Standard 2: effective workforce planning – employers should use effective workforce planning systems to make sure that the right number of social workers, with the right level of skills and experience, are available to meet current and future service demands.
  • Standard 3: safe workloads and case allocation – employers should ensure social workers have safe and manageable workloads.
  • Standard 4: managing risks and resources – employers should ensure that social workers can do their jobs safely and have the practical tools and resources they need to practice effectively. Assess risks and take action to minimise and prevent them.
  • Standard 5: effective and appropriate supervision – employers should ensure that social workers have regular and appropriate social work supervision.
  • Standard 6: continuing professional development – employers should provide opportunities for effective continuing professional development, as well as access to research and relevant knowledge.
  • Standard 7: professional registration – employers should ensure social workers can maintain their professional registration.
  • Standard 8: effective partnerships – employers should establish effective partnerships with higher education institutions and other organisations to support the delivery of social work education and continuing professional development.

Some of the standards set out above relate to the wider organisation. Standard 3, Standard 5 and Standard 6 relate to practice of supervision for frontline staff and managers. More detail is provided below.

3. Standard 3 – Safe Workloads and Case Allocation

The objective is to ensure social workers have safe and manageable workloads.

This standard is about protecting employees and service users from the harm caused by excessive workloads, long waiting lists and unallocated cases.

All employers should:

  • use a workload management system which sets transparent benchmarks for safe workload levels in each service area;
  • ensure each social worker’s workload is regularly assessed to take account of work complexity, individual worker capacity and time needed for supervision (Standard 5) and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) (Standard 6);
  • ensure that cases are allocated transparently and by prior discussion with the individual social worker, with due consideration of newly qualified social workers on Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE);
  • ensure that a social worker’s professional judgment about workload capacity issues is respected in line with the requirements of their professional registration (Standard 7);
  • take contingency action when workload demand exceeds staffing capacity; report regularly to strategic leaders about workload and capacity issues within services;
  • publish information about average caseloads for social workers within the organisation (Standard 1).

3.1 Useful information

Unison: Workload Management Guidance

5. Standard 5 – Effective and Appropriate Supervision

The objective is to ensure that social workers have regular and appropriate social work supervision.

This standard is about making high quality, regular supervision an integral part of social work practice. This should start with students on placement and continue through ASYE and throughout the individual’s social work career. Supervision should be based on a rigorous understanding of the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) and the Knowledge and Skills Statement for Social Workers in Adult Services. Supervision should challenge students and qualified practitioners to reflect critically on their practice and should foster an inquisitive approach to social work.

4.1 Frequency of supervision

All employers should make sure that supervision takes place:

  • regularly and consistently and last at least an hour and a half of uninterrupted time;
  • for students on placement – as agreed with student and higher education institution;
  • for newly qualified social workers – at least weekly for the first six weeks of employment of a newly qualified social worker, at least fortnightly for the duration of the first six months, and a minimum of monthly supervision thereafter;
  • for social workers who have demonstrated capability at ASYE level and above – in line with identified needs, and at least monthly;
  • monitor actual frequency and quality of supervision against clear statements about what is expected.

4.2 Quality of supervision

All employers should:

  • ensure that social work supervision is not treated as an isolated activity by incorporating it into the organisation’s social work accountability framework;
  • promote continuous learning and knowledge sharing through which social workers are encouraged to draw out learning points by reflecting on their own practice in the light of experiences of peers;
  • ensure that the PCF, at an appropriate level, is used as the basis for evaluating capability and identifying development needs;
  • ensure that supervision supports students and qualified social workers to meet Social Work England Professional Standards;
  • encourage social workers to plan, reflect continuing professional development (CPD) activity, including logging it online with Social Work England;
  • provide regular supervision training for social work supervisors;
  • assign explicit responsibility for the oversight of appropriate supervision and for issues that arise through supervision;
  • provide additional professional supervision by a registered social worker for practitioners whose line manager is not a social worker.

6.4.3 Useful information

Supervision, Social Work England

BASW supervision policy

5. Standard 6: Continuing Professional Development

The objective is to provide opportunities for effective continuing professional development, as well as access to research and relevant knowledge.

This standard is about social workers being able to build a robust and up to date knowledge and skill base through effective CPD and access to research, evidence and best practice guidance. Employers should facilitate career-long learning and empower social workers to work confidently and effectively with the children, adults and families they have been trained to support. Employers should also understand the statutory requirement for social workers in England to undertake CPD, as outlined in Social Work England Guidance.

5.1 Supporting staff development

All employers should:

  • have effective induction systems and put in place tailored support programmes for ASYEs, including protected development time, a managed workload, tailored supervision and personal development plans;
  • have an appraisal or performance review system which assesses how well professional practice is delivered and identifies a learning and development plan to support the achievement of objectives;
  • provide time, resources and support for CPD;
  • have fair and transparent systems to enable social workers to develop their professional skills and knowledge throughout their careers through an entitlement to formal and informal CPD, including practice educator and / or specialist training as appropriate;
  • encourage social workers to plan, reflect on and record CPD activity, including logging it online with Social Work England.

5.2 Promoting research based practice

All employers should:

  • support their social workers to make decisions and pursue actions that are informed by robust and rigorous evidence so that service users can have confidence in the service they receive;
  • enable social workers to work with others engaged in research and practice development activities in universities, professional bodies and trade unions to develop the evidence base for good practice;
  • ensure that practice educators are able to contribute to the learning, support, supervision and assessment of students on qualifying and CPD programmes.

6.5.3 Useful information

ASYE Information, resources and case studies

BASW: Continuing Professional Development Policy

Research in Practice for Adults (RiPFA)

Skills for Care: continuing to develop social workers

Post-qualifying Standards for Social Work Practice Supervisors in Adult Social Care

Professional Capabilities Framework

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Lone workers are ‘those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision’ (Health and Safety Executive). Many hazards lone workers face are similar to those of other workers, but the risks however, may be greater because the worker is on their own.

There is no specific law dealing with lone working, however all health and safety legislation applies equally to lone workers.  Employers have a duty to assess the risks to their employees who are lone working and take steps to avoid or control risks where necessary. This must include:

  • involving workers when considering potential risks and how to control them;
  • acting to ensure risks are removed where possible, or control measures put in place;
  • training and supervision; and
  • reviewing risk assessments.

It may also include:

  • understanding some tasks may be too difficult or dangerous to be carried out by an unaccompanied worker;
  • when a risk assessment shows it is not possible for the work to be conducted safely by a lone worker, addressing that risk by making arrangements to provide help or support.

Conducting risk assessments should help the employer decide on the right level of supervision.

Common practices used by organisations to manage the personal safety of their lone workers include:

  • conducting risk assessments
  • implementing a lone worker policy and procedure
  • implementation of a buddy system
  • lone worker training
  • conflict management training
  • provision and use of monitoring systems and other equipment (alarms, trackers, mobile phones).
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Coronavirus / COVID-19

1. Introduction

Whistleblowing is also known as raising concerns at work; it is when a person intentionally and purposefully brings attention to an activity they have witnessed or have a credible suspected consideration of a wrongdoing that is happening or has happened in the workplace. This may be relating to:

  • criminal activity;
  • miscarriages of justice;
  • danger to health and safety;
  • damage to the environment;
  • failure to comply with any legal obligation or regulatory requirements;
  • bribery; and / or
  • the deliberate concealment of any of the above matters.

Please note: Any concerns relating to an adult who is experiencing or at risk of abuse or neglect must be reported via the local safeguarding adults board procedures.

Anyone working at any level of the organisation, including volunteer or contractors, should raise any concerns that they may have. It is expected that staff who have serious concerns about any aspect of the organisation’s work or that of another worker, should voice their concerns.

No one acting in good faith will be penalised for doing so. Any attempt to victimise employees for raising genuine concerns or attempts to prevent such concerns being raised should be regarded as a disciplinary matter.

Knowingly and intentionally raising malicious, unfounded allegations should also be regarded as a disciplinary matter.

Whistleblowing does not:

  • require employees to investigate in any way in order to prove that their suspicions are well founded (although they should have reasonable grounds for their suspicions);
  • replace the organisation’s grievance procedure which is available to employees concerned about their own situation;
  • replace the organisation’s disciplinary procedure; or
  • replace the complaints procedure (whistleblowing is not the same as a complaint) – see Complaints.

2. Information for Concerned Members of Staff

2.1 Raising concerns

Where possible the member of staff should raise the issue/s directly with the individual concerned, the organisation supports open and honest dialogue between colleagues and sharing of constructive feedback in order to promote best practice, safety and honesty.

Where it is not possible to raise concerns directly with the individual, or where this has been attempted but did not result in the activity being discontinued, the concerns should be raised with the concerned member of staff’s line manager (this can be done informally through open discussion or formally through an arranged meeting or written document / email).

In most cases, the matter will be dealt with at this stage. The earlier concerns are raised, the easier it will be to for action to be implemented.

2.2 The staff member is unable to speak to their manager

If the staff member feels unable to raise the issue with their line manager, for instance if the concern relates to their line manager or if the line manager does not take appropriate action to resolve the issue, the member of staff should then approach their senior manager.

The organisation recognises that in some circumstances it may be appropriate for the member of staff to report their concerns to an external body. See also Raising Concerns at Work: Whistleblowing Guidance for Workers and Employers in Health and Social Care.

If the member of staff decides to blow the whistle to someone other than their employer, they must make sure they have chosen the correct person or body for the issue. A ‘prescribed person’ can be a regulatory or legislative body, as well as an individual, who is  independent of the organisation to which the whistleblower belongs but has an authoritative relationship with it. See Appendix 2 for list of Useful Organisations, including prescribed persons.

Please note: it will rarely, if ever, be appropriate to contact the media. Advice should first be sought from a prescribed person before reporting a concern to any such external body.

2.3 Action as a result of raising concerns

This will depend largely on the nature of the concerns raised.

In most instances the manager, or other person with whom the staff member has raised concerns, will arrange to meet them as soon as possible away from the workplace, if necessary. This is to enable the person to explain fully the nature of their concerns. The member of staff should be asked how they would want their concerns to be resolved.

Where appropriate, concerns that are raised may:

  • be investigated by management, internal audit, or through the disciplinary process;
  • be investigated under another procedure, e.g. safeguarding adults;
  • be reported to the organisation’s standards or management committee / team;
  • be referred to the police;
  • be referred to an external auditor;
  • form the subject of an independent inquiry.

Within 10 working days, the member of staff should receive in writing:

  • an acknowledgment the concern has been received;
  • an indication how the matter will be dealt with;
  • where applicable, an estimate of how long it will take to provide a final response;
  • information on staff support mechanisms;
  • contact details of the designated contact person dealing with their concern.

If, during the investigation, the staff member is concerned about what progress is being made, require support or reassurance, or feel they may be being victimised or harassed as a result of making the disclosure, they should raise this with the relevant manager/supporting organisation.

The designated contact should inform the staff member in writing of the outcome of their concern. However, this will not include details of any disciplinary action that may result, as this will remain confidential to the individual/s concerned.

Wherever possible, the matter should be addressed within 28 days of the member of staff raising the concern/s.

Please note: due to the likely sensitive nature of raising concerns at work, the member of staff should discuss the matter with as few people as possible.

2.4 The staff member does not agree with the outcome

If the member of staff does not agree with the way their concerns have been dealt with by local management, they may choose to escalate their concerns to senior management.

The staff member may otherwise feel it necessary to report their concerns to an external body, however this must be appropriate for the issue concerned. See Appendix 2, Useful Organisations for a list of prescribed persons.

3. Information for Managers

3.1 Introduction

Managers are expected to develop and promote open and supportive communication.

They should lead by example, encourage team meetings to be environments for staff to air concerns, support training which promotes organisational values and empowers staff with the confidence to speak up and raise concerns.

3.2 When concerns have been raised

The manager must arrange to meet the person raising the concerns as quickly as possible to establish exactly the nature of the concern and understand what has given rise to it. The manager must:

  •  consider carefully where the meeting should take place and allow the person raising the concerns to be accompanied by an appropriate friend or colleague, if that is their wish;
  • make a note of their conversations with the person raising the concerns and agree the accuracy of that note with them;
  • be sensitive to the fact that the person concerned may feel uncomfortable about raising issues regarding a colleague or a manager;
  • consider and address the support needs of the person who is the subject of the concerns and of the person raising them;
  • prioritise the process of dealing with the issue remembering that, wherever possible, it should be addressed within 28 days of the matter being raised by the staff member.

See also Confidentiality.

3.3 Once concerns have been established

If the issue appears to be relatively minor and straightforward in nature, the manager may decide to resolve it informally and directly with the individual who is the cause of the concern/s.

If the issue appears to be complex or more serious, the manager must first consider whether any immediate action is necessary to protect the needs of co-workers, or adults with care or support needs. This may include referring the matter to their own manager, human resources, the police and/or initiating local safeguarding adult procedures.

Where appropriate, the member of staff raising concerns should be informed of the action taken.

3.4 Where the manager has no line management responsibility for the individual who is the cause of the concerns

The manager must refer the matter to the appropriate manager with responsibility for the individual who is the cause of the concerns.

In considering who to refer the matter to, the manager should take account of the level of seriousness of the concerns and any reservations expressed by the person raising them about to whom they should be referred.  Advice should be sought from senior management or Human Resources in the event of any uncertainty.

See Guidance for Managers, Whistleblowing Helpline.

3.5 Recording

A record of concerns raised together with a record of action taken in response should be retained on the personal file of the staff member who raised the concern and, where appropriate, on the personal file of the staff member the concern was raised about. The length of time the record should be retained should be reviewed at regular intervals. The record on the file of the person complained about should exclude the identity of the staff member who raised the concern in cases where anonymity has been maintained.

4. Confidentiality

It is preferable that a serious concern is raised responsibly rather than not at all. The organisation should when requested, therefore, respect the confidentiality of a member of staff raising a concern.

In some cases, confidentiality may not be possible, for example when reporting abuse or a criminal offence, as action may need to be taken.

Staff can be expected to be consulted if it does become necessary to reveal their identity.

If there is an unauthorised disclosure of someone’s identity, disciplinary action may be taken against that individual.

5. Protection and Support for Whistleblowers

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 provides legal protection against detriment for workers who raise concerns in the public interest.

Bullying, harassment or victimisation (including informal pressures) by other members of staff towards someone who raises a concern will not be tolerated. Retaliation may include:

  • frequent and undesirable changes in work assigned;
  • unsubstantiated disciplinary action;
  • unjust denial of promotion or transfer.

Senior management should be vigilant and may need to take appropriate action to protect staff who raise a concern in good faith.

Staff must not threaten or take retaliatory action against whistleblowers. Anyone involved in such conduct will be subject to disciplinary procedures.

If a staff member believes they have suffered any such treatment, they should inform their manager – or suitable other person – immediately. If the matter is not remedied they should raise it formally through the organisation’s grievance procedure.

Appendix 1: Top Tips for Workers

Employees Online Tool for Raising Concerns, Whistleblowing Hotline.

Appendix 2: Useful Organisations

Blowing the whistle: list of prescribed people and bodies – is a list of the prescribed persons and bodies.

Whistleblowing Helpline

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CQC We Statement

Theme 4 – Leadership: Learning, improvement and innovation 

We statement

We focus on continuous learning, innovation and improvement across our organisation and the local system. We encourage creative ways of delivering equality of experience, outcome and quality of life for people. We actively contribute to safe, effective practice and research.

A performance appraisal / Performance and Development Review (PDR) is a systematic and regular (usually annual) process that assesses an individual member of staff’s performance in relation to pre-established criteria and objectives. It is an important opportunity for a staff member to gain feedback on their performance from their manager, provide a summary of their work and achievements and identify opportunities to further develop their skills through training. It offers a formal opportunity for managers to provide motivation to a member of staff, even if there have been areas of concern.

The objectives for the appraisal / PDR should be agreed by both the manager and member of staff either once the staff member has been confirmed in post (in the case of a new employee) or at the last PDR (for staff in continuing employment). The objectives should be a mix of specific areas of interest for the individual staff member, those related to the post / team, and those which reflect the directorate’s vision and direction.

Other aspects of the staff member’s performance should also be considered, such as team working, strengths and weaknesses, overall behaviour, and potential future achievements.

Preparation is key to a successful and productive appraisal / PDR meeting, the manager and staff member should each complete appraisal and work planning documents prior to commencement of the session. It is crucial that all issues are supported with evidence from work completed throughout the year; this may be from a variety of sources including Supervision

Issues that have been raised in supervision since the last review – either as good practice or areas where improvement is required – should be discussed.

Following a review of the achievements (or otherwise) from the previously agreed objectives, new or revised objectives should be agreed within defined timescales. This will include identified training needs, either as a result of new areas of interest expressed by the staff member for development that complements their current post, or as a result of acknowledged issues which require improvement.

If the manager and member of staff do not agree on achievements of the previous set of objectives, or training needs or setting of future objectives, these should be recorded with supporting evidence. The local performance development review policy and procedure should contain a course of action for responding to such disagreements.

The appraisal / PDR discussion and the agreed future objectives should be recorded and signed by the manager and counter signed by the staff member, who should also be provided with a copy. This may be done via email as an electronic documentation of the agreement.

Further Reading

Relevant chapters


Workforce Development

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